A Walk to Remember Through a Weekend to Forget

Top 25 teams weren’t safe this past weekend. Texas, Oklahoma, West Virginia, Florida, Alabama, Oregon, Clemson, Penn State and Rutgers all ended up on the wrong end of this impossibly strange week.

That’s nine of the the teams thought to be among the best in the country.

It’s just one of those years.

Outside of USC and LSU (who both have looked vulnerable at times), no team is infallible. This could be the year the BCS finally pisses off enough people to result in its demise.

If there are enough one-loss teams, let’s say four from BCS conferences, the standings would be expelling two of the top teams in the country from a potential title shot. If god-forbid there should be more than four one-loss schools, which seems unlikely the way this season is unfolding, the amount of unrest would surely bring about some sort of change for the future.

So let’s take a look at the top teams and their shot at running the table (or the remainder of said table):

Ranked Unbeatens

USCLSU, who inexplicably jumped USC in the AP poll, must navigate the unsafe waters of the SEC. The next four games are crucial. Florida at home this week followed by Kentucky on the road, Auburn at home and Alabama on the road. That stretch coupled with the SEC title game makes a single loss likely, but this team is immensely talented.

USC still must go on the road against Cal, Oregon and Arizona State (all ranked) and get UCLA at home to close out the season. Last season, the Trojans slipped twice on the road, going into Autzen Stadium in Eugene is one of the most difficult tasks in football.

California barely escaped Oregon and that was only the first conference game of the season. That’s not a good sign in a conference that is now thought of as the toughest in the nation.

Ohio State hasn’t really beaten anyone. Three of their toughest remaining opponents are on the road (Michigan, Penn State, Purdue). The Wisconsin game will probably be for the Big 10 title November 3rd in Columbus, the winner will be looking at a BCS title shot.

Boston College‘s final five games will tell the tale of their season and whether or not Matt Ryan is the Heisman Trophy winner. Ryan’s been touted as the best senior QB in the country by a few sources, but if he can’t lead the Eagles to the ACC title he won’t even get a look. The final five consists of Maryland, Clemson and Virginia Tech on the road with both Florida schools visiting Boston. A single loss will throw this team out of contention as the league is thought of as being down these days.

South Florida is a nice story. They’ll clearly be on the outside looking in if they form a group of three unbeatens or one-loss teams. The rest of the Big East looks vulnerable and there’s no reason they can’t run the table.

Kentucky is a real nice story but let’s be serious here, the SEC East is home to three coaches who have won national championships. Thursday night they go into Columbia to face the first of those coaches in Steve Spurrior. LSU and Florida come to Lexington in consecutive weeks. There is no room for error in this conference and unfortunately for what is the best team Kentucky has had in the modern era, error is all but inevitable.

Hawaii got a lot of pub in the off-season, mainly because of Colt Brennan’s ungodly statistics. They will probably head into the final two games undefeated (Boise St and Washington) and both of those are potential losses. If Hawaii goes undefeated and nobody else does, there will be pressure to put them in the championship game. However, no sane person argue that based on the cupcake schedule they played.

Missouri is a very good team. But we don’t know how good yet. A win against Nebraska this week would set them up for a run at their first ever Big 12 Championship and BCS appearance. Outside of their trip to Norman to play the Sooners the next week, every game on the schedule is winnable.

Arizona State was a bit of a bandwagon in the off-season with the hiring of new coach Dennis Erickson. They’ll be in contention for a Pac 10 title, just not this year. Battles against Cal, at Oregon and at UCLA in consecutive weeks will foil their plan.

Cincinnati shocked the nation when they beat Oregon State on a Thursday night early in the season. Unfortunately their next three games are at Rutgers (coming off a disappointing loss), Louisville at home, and at Pitt. Like ASU, new coach Brian Kelly has this team on the right track but they’re not there yet.

Purdue may have been overlooked in off-season. The offense has beat up on a bunch of cupcakes but there is definite talent there and they deserve to be mentioned in the upper echelon of the somewhat wide-open Big 10 race.

Top One-Loss Teams

Florida GatorsFlorida‘s stunning loss against Auburn begs one question, how will the Gators fare in three consecutive games against ranked opponents, all on the road? UF must travel to LSU, Kentucky and Georgia within this month and do they really want to be lucky enough to find their way back into the SEC title game for what would be a rematch against LSU? I think not. Losing to a team once per year is tough enough.

Oklahoma‘s loss to Colorado was one of the games that really put this season into perspective. After next week either Texas or Oklahoma will be a two-loss team with half a season to go. The Red River game comes at a rather unfortunate time for both teams. The Big 12 south really took a hit with those two loses to north teams and could it mean that this week’s Missouri – Nebraska is really the big ticket? OU needs to blowout UT to get back on the national scene.

Oregon falling as far as they did in the polls was a travesty. It was a devastating home loss but this team is one of the best in the country. With the exception of SC, there isn’t a team on the schedule that can stop them. They’ll need a little luck and a dominating season from SC, but a Rose Bowl isn’t out of the question.

West Virginia shouldn’t have lost to South Florida. I shouldn’t have started drinking. sh*t happens. Let’s see how they deal with it. Luckily there is time to recover before a late October trip to Piscataway.

Georgia is a bit of a sleeper. Matt Stafford is probably the best QB in the SEC but that’s the problem, it’s the SEC. The only positive about their schedule is the absence of LSU which immediately give them a leg up on their SEC east brethren South Carolina, Florida and Kentucky.

Texas couldn’t be further from their 2005 form. The defense is lacking in the secondary which is catastrophic in the Big 12. If they can somehow survive the Red River Shootout the opportunity is there to win the Big 12.

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